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    ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said government is firmly committed to reducing the cost of doing business and improve country’s ranking in the ease of doing business index.

    Khan was chairing the first meeting of the newly constituted Council of Business Leaders.

    The premier said in order to strengthen local industry and reduce cost of production, gas prices have been reduced for five export-oriented industries so as to make domestic products internationally competitive, an official statement reported.

    He said the government was also considering reduction in various duties - including customs, regulatory and others — to further reduce the business cost. Khan continued that the government is also working on developing a national tariff policy to address issues of the business community and remove anomalies in the existing tariff structure.

    Regarding improving the country’s ranking in ease of doing business index, prime minister said the government is aiming to get Pakistan under 100 by extending maximum facilitation and simplification of the procedures.

    He said a special Complaint and Suggestion Cell is being established at the Board of Investment to facilitate redressal of the business community’s complaints and welcome their suggestions with regards to relevant policies.

    The cell, be connected to Prime Minister Office, would be functional in a week’s time, Khan claimed.

    Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2018


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    LAHORE: National Acco­untability Bureau Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal has suspended an additional director from service for producing Punjab University’s former vice chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran and four other teachers in handcuffs before an accountability court and constituted a new team to investigate the charges against the five professors.

    Presiding over a meeting at the bureau’s Lahore office on Wednesday, Mr Iqbal took strict notice of the incident and suspended additional director Muhammad Rafi from service. He also ordered an investigation into the matter.

    He also recommended to the Punjab police chief to suspend ASI Mukhtar Ahmed in this case.

    The NAB Lahore has sent all judicial guards back to their parent department (police) after the incident as it blamed them for presenting the suspects in handcuffs.

    Prof Kamran, two former registrars, Prof Dr Raas Masood and Prof Dr Liaquat Ali, and two additional registrars, Prof Dr Aurangzaib Alamgir and Dr Kamran Abid, are facing charges of 550 illegal appointments in the Punjab University.

    Prof Kamran is also accused of illegally appointing his second wife Dr Shazia Qureshi as principal of the Punjab University Law College and also awarding scholarships to ‘favourite’ students.

    The NAB chairman constituted a new team to investigate the case of Prof Kamran and other suspects.

    A delegation comprising teachers of Punjab University also called on him at the NAB office and assured him of their full cooperation with it in this case.

    According to NAB, the chairman assured the visiting teachers of complete transparency in the probe against the five professors. “They (teachers) regretted a vilification campaign against the NAB’s Lahore director general after the arrest of the varsity teachers,” it said.

    The chairman asked the visiting teachers to play their role in addressing the menace of corruption in educational institutions. He said NAB did not believe in victimisation of suspects as it was determined to fight corruption.

    In the meeting with the bureau’s officials in Lahore, Mr Iqbal was briefed on progress on all mega corruption cases. He directed the officials to complete investigation within due course of time.

    Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2018


    Punjab University campus, Lahore. ─ File photoPunjab University campus, Lahore. ─ File photo

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    ROME: Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has called on the Italian defence minister, army chief and secretary general of defence and discussed with them enhancement in bilateral defence and security cooperation, including potential joint initiatives.

    The Italian leadership was highly appreciative of the role played by Pakistan in regional stability and also towards global security, said a press release issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations on Wednesday.

    They maintained that Pakistan was well on its way towards a prosperous future and that Italy and Pakistan would benefit by building on the existing relationship between the two countries.

    Asked about the success formula in the war against terrorism, Gen Bajwa said that it was due to the spirit of sacrifice and support of the nation, especially the people of tribal areas and the families of Shuhada and Ghazis.

    The army chief said that although the fight was still on, Pakistan had emerged stronger from the tribulations.

    He said that today’s Pakistan was open to the world and the government was looking for peace within and peace without to provide its people the prosperity they deserved after the difficult times.

    During the visit, the army chief was also presented demonstrations of Italian defence capabilities both for land and amphibious operations.

    He also interacted with representatives of the Pakistani community and the Italian defence industry.

    Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2018


    ROME: Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa inspecting Italian guns and other weapons.—APPROME: Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa inspecting Italian guns and other weapons.—APP

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    ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan International Airlines is suffering operational losses to the tune of Rs2 billion per month due to the rupee’s depreciation and a jump in fuel prices, according to Aviation Secretary Mohammad Saqib Aziz.

    These operational losses were in addition to liabilities of Rs400bn, including bank loans, he told the Senate Standing Committee on Aviation on Wednesday.

    The secretary said the increase in fuel prices and depreciation of rupee against the dollar were the two major reasons for the airline’s losses. Another major factor for the financial crunch was overstaffing, Saqib Aziz added. Financial constraints caused by overstaffing had in turn led to non-payment of salaries this month, he said.

    “The matter has been taken up with the finance division and we hope that it will be settled soon.”

    Rupee depreciation against dollar and increase in fuel prices are main reasons for losses, says aviation secretary

    The Senate committee met for a briefing on various issues concerning aviation, particularly PIA, complications in its new software which was causing errors during bookings, problems faced by parliamentarians and allegations of money laundering by PIA officers.

    Senator Hasil Khan Bizenjo inquired how long PIA would continue to suffer losses. The secretary explained that a business plan to turn around the national flag carrier had been shared with the previous government and it was still under process.

    However, PML-N Senator Mushahidullah Khan, who chaired the Senate standing committee, intervened and attributed PIA’s massive losses to malpractices in purchase of spare parts for its fleet. “A lot of losses can be cut down if spares are purchased in a transparent manner,” he added.

    PIA has 17,000 workers

    The meeting was informed that the airline was overstaffed — it had 13,500 regular employees and some 3,500 daily wagers. The ratio of workers per aircraft works out to 450.

    The aviation secretary said if non-core staff such as catering, engineering and ground handling crew were separated from the core employees, the ratio of workers against one aircraft would come down to 135 — the same as in India.

    In the engineering section alone, PIA has more than 4,000 employees. Members were informed that the PIA employees had gone without salaries this month due to financial constraints.

    The meeting was also informed that PIA spent roughly 18 per cent of the revenue on each staff member.

    About the financial constraints, the secretary explained that all earnings went straight into banks, which deduct the loans taken by PIA before releasing the remaining amount.

    The committee chairman drew the secretary’s attention to recent reports alleging that the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSE) had declared PIA a defaulter. Mr Aziz said the PSE had issued a warning after PIA management failed to present details of audited accounts and failed to hold its annual general meeting. However, he added: “The trading of PIA shares has not been suspended.”

    The meeting was told that five out of the 33 aircraft in PIA fleet had been grounded for maintenance.

    Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2018


    Operational losses are in addition to liabilities of Rs400bn. ─ File photoOperational losses are in addition to liabilities of Rs400bn. ─ File photo

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    ISLAMABAD: The growing population is likely to outstrip developmental gains and continue to adversely affect the economy, environment, health, education and quality of the lives of all citizens, a report released on Wednesday said.

    According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Pakistan is the fifth most populous country in the world, with 208 million people and an annual population growth rate of 2.4pc.

    The new report, released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and titled The Power of Choice: Reproductive Rights and the Demographic Transition, said that the global trend towards smaller families is a reflection of people making reproductive choices to have as few or as many children as they want, and when they want. Once people lack choice, it can have a long-term impact on fertility rates.

    Family size is closely linked with reproductive rights, which, in turn, are tied to many other rights, including the right to health care, education and jobs. Where people can exercise their rights, they tend to thrive.

    UNFPA launches global report on reproductive rights

    Where these rights are stifled, people often fail to achieve their full potential, impeding economic and social progress.

    “Choice can change the world,” UNFPA Executive Director Dr Natalia Kanem wrote in the report’s foreword. “It can rapidly improve the well-being of women and girls, transform families, and accelerate global development.”

    When a woman has the power and means to prevent or delay a pregnancy, for example, she has more control over her health and can enter or stay in the paid labour force and realise her full economic potential.

    “Choices can change the world. The power to choose the number, timing and spacing of pregnancies will bolster economic and social progress around the world for decades to come. The unmet need for modern contraception prevents thousands of families from choosing their desired family size and perusing their dreams and aspirations,” Dr Hassan Mohtashami, the UNFPA representative in Pakistan, said.

    According to the UNFPA’s The State of World Population 2018, Pakistan is the world’s fifth most populous country with a population of 208 million and an annual population growth rate of 2.4pc.

    National Institute of Population Studies Executive Director Pervaiz Ahmed Junejo said: “The Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey (PDHS) key indicators report shows that the current Total Fertility Rate (TFR) at 3.6 is considerably high compared to the countries in the region except Afghanistan.”

    The global report found that no country can claim that all of its citizens enjoy reproductive rights at all times. Most couples cannot have the number of children they desire to have because they either lack economic and social support to achieve their preferred family size, or don’t have the means to control their fertility. The unmet need for modern contraception prevents millions of women from choosing smaller families.

    Since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, reproductive health and rights have substantially improved around the world. People have more information about their reproductive rights and choices, and a greater capacity to claim their rights.

    “The historic transition to lower fertility has emerged through people claiming their right to make choices about their reproductive lives, and to have as few, or as many, children as they want, when they want,” the report stated.

    The report classified all countries in the world by the current dynamics of their populations’ fertility.

    To make freedom of choice a reality, says the report, countries can prioritise universal access to quality reproductive healthcare, including modern contraceptives; ensure better education, including age-appropriate and culturally-sensitive sexuality education; advocate for a change in men’s attitudes to be supportive of the rights and aspirations of women and girls; and make it easier for couples to have more children, if they want them, by enabling greater work-life balance through measures such as affordable child care.

    Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2018


    Pakistan is the fifth most populous country in the world, says report. — Photo/FilePakistan is the fifth most populous country in the world, says report. — Photo/File

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    LAHORE: The Punjab government is maintaining a close liaison with the federal finance ministry to ensure full and timely transfer of the net hydel profit arrears and its share from the federal taxes to ward off any slippages in the provincial income estimated for the present financial year.

    This was stated by Punjab Finance Minister Makhdum Hashim Jawan Bakht at the post-budget presser on Wednesday.

    He was asked if the provincial government had in place an alternate plan to mitigate the impact of possible slippages in provincial tax collection target of Rs275.7 billion for the year and delays in the transfer of net hydel profit (arrears and fresh profit to be accrued this fiscal) of Rs41.2bn on its budget plans.

    Last year, Islamabad had disbursed net hydel profits amounting to Rs17.5bn against the budget estimate of Rs32.8bn and the provincial tax collection fell short of the target by 10pc. In case of delays in transfer of the net hydel profit and slippages in provincial tax collection could compromise the provincial government’s effort to produce cash surplus of Rs147.8bn as required by the federal government to keep the consolidated national fiscal deficit at 5.1pc.

    Minister says govt in contact with finance ministry for timely transfer of hydel profit arrears and share from taxes

    The minister said the government planned to launch Rawalpindi Ring Road project and focus on building East-West corridor infrastructure in the province instead of previously prioritised North-South corridor. He said the government planned to partner with private sector for infrastructure development in the province under the public-private partnership (PPP) mode. “These infrastructure projects, and others, could be handed over to private sector on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis,” he said.

    The Makhdum said the Punjab government was developing its five-year growth strategy (2018-2023) that will be announced in a month. “The future development planning and tax policy of the province will be synchronised with the objectives of the strategy,” he said. “The future development spending in the province will be evidence-based and outcome-oriented.”

    The minister justified the drastic reduction of over 62pc in the annual development programme (ADP) of the province to Rs238bn, saying the PTI government would discourage showing in the budget exaggerated and unrealistic development targets for drawing political mileage like the previous PML-N regime. “We will try to be as transparent as possible and accountable to the public for our policies. You will see that we will improve both social and economic infrastructure and stimulate industrial and agriculture growth with far less resources than wasted by the previous government on politically-motivated mega projects like metro train in Lahore.”

    He said the reduction in provincial development investment will not impact growth.

    He also blamed the previous government for substantial increase of 23pc in current expenditure this year, saying it had been spiked to pay for increase in salaries and pension bill. He said the first PTI budget targeted regional equalisation in the province.

    “We are not only focusing on south Punjab but also the underdeveloped western and northern districts of the province.”

    Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2018


    Punjab Assembly. — Photo/FilePunjab Assembly. — Photo/File

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    LAHORE: The city district administration on Wednesday resumed the anti-encroachment operation during which it retrieved 673-kanal state land worth Rs1.58 billion from illegal occupants.

    Officials said getting back the possession of 673 kanal in various parts of the city in one day was a remarkable achievement. The operation began in the first week of the month and had to be stopped ahead of the by-polls.

    At the same time the operation planned by the Lahore Development Authority in collaboration with the tehsil administration and police in Tajpura couldn’t succeed as the locals reportedly forced the officials to return through a vociferous protest and blockade of roads.

    “It is the biggest and wide-ranging action during which our teams headed by respective assistant commissioners (ACs) took possession of various pieces of state land measuring 673 kanal (agricultural, residential and commercial) from those illegally occupying them for long. We have also started compiling data of the state land being retrieved from the grabbers.

    ‘Botched Tajpura action to be rescheduled’

    “Under this data, the entire pieces of state land will be displayed in Lahore’s master plan and the maps of Lahore made by the P&D department’s Urban Unit,” Deputy Commissioner retired Capt Anwarul Haq told Dawn.

    During Wednesday’s day-long operations against encroachments or illegal possession, the teams retrieved various pieces of land at Farrukhabad, Begumkot, Mauza Bhi Kot (Raiwind), Hanjarwal, Eicho Gill and Thela Gulla areas.

    According to officials, a team headed by Lahore city AC Safdar Virk carried out operation at Farrukhabad and retrieved a piece of 104 kanal and 10 marla state land worth Rs100 million.

    In an operation at Hanjarwal, the same team retrieved 12 kanal and five marla commercial land worth about Rs866 million. The team demolished several shops, outhouses and other permanent structures with heavy machinery.

    In another operation at Mauza Bhi Kot, the team led by Raiwind AC Asim Saleem retrieved 18 kanal and six marla of state land worth Rs17.5 million by demolishing a huge structure.

    A team led by Shalimar AC Zaheer Liaquat retrieved 400 kanal of agricultural land worth Rs400 million at Mauza Eicho Gill.

    Another team led by Cantonment AC Haider Abbas Wattoo retrieved 140 kanal agricultural land worth Rs200 million at Mauza Thela Gulla.

    Meanwhile, the city administration has allowed the shopkeepers and owners of shops to voluntarily dismantle the extended concrete ground structures and other encroachments outside the business places. The decision was taken after the people approached the administration and sought permission to undertake the job on their own.

    “We have done so after people requested us to allow them to dismantle the illegal structures and we have not carried out any operation in markets in the last one week or so,” said the DC.

    According to an LDA official, the reason behind suspension of operation in Tajpura was a lack of coordination.

    “Our team reached there at 10am but neither police officials nor the assistant commissioner or his enforcement officials were available there. Police came there after some time but the AC couldn’t reach there,” the official said on the request of anonymity.

    He said people including lawyers started gathering there and staged a protest demonstration and blocked the road. “In this situation our team had no option but to return,” he said, adding that the operation would be rescheduled.

    Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2018


    Lahore administration resume anti-encroachment operation to locals' chagrin. — Photo/FileLahore administration resume anti-encroachment operation to locals' chagrin. — Photo/File

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    RAWALPINDI: The Punjab government has directed police around the province to deploy Quick Response Force (QRF) and Elite Force personnel around category A educational institutions for response in case of emergencies.

    Divisional police chiefs and district administration officials have been directed to task committees constituted under the Punjab Security of Vulnerable Establishments Act, 2015 to visit the educational institutions for reviewing on-the-ground security arrangements.

    In a directive to divisional police chiefs and divisional commissioners, the Punjab Home Department has cited intelligence agencies saying there are serious threats to educational institutions in the province and that they should be provided with foolproof security at all levels. Security measures already taken by the institutions themselves are also to be reviewed.

    The vulnerability of educational institutions will be looked into. The security audit report of educational institutions is to be re-examined and loopholes pointed out in the previous reports are to be addressed. The security audit reports have been shared with the concerned authorities.

    The home department has said the threats to educational institutions should be thoroughly examined and the required security measures should be arranged.

    The administrations of private educational institutions should be sensitised about the threat and it should be ensured that they are following the standard operating procedures.

    The police have been directed to make sure the required security arrangements are made by the administrations of educational institutions. Combing and search operations are to be carried out around sensitive institutions.

    The police are to conduct regular patrolling around category A+ and A institutions during school timing.

    A security audit of educational institutions conducted this year says there are 270 category A+ educational institutions in Rawalpindi division and several security loopholes were discovered in these institutions.

    A security official told Dawn foreign schools, army schools and those with 500 students or more are categorised as A+. There are 20 such schools in the Rawalpindi district.

    Though the local police had conducted a mock exercise five months ago to check its preparation for handling an emergency situation in an educational institution, there are still many schools which are not following the security SOP.

    Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2018


    Divisional police chiefs and district administration officials have been directed to review on-the-ground security arrangements. — Photo/FileDivisional police chiefs and district administration officials have been directed to review on-the-ground security arrangements. — Photo/File

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    KARACHI: Taking notice of a brawl in Taiser Town between supporters of two Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf legislators in which they traded allegations of land grabbing against each other, the Sindh Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) on Wednesday ordered an inquiry into the matter.

    In a statement, the provincial anti-graft watchdog said it had already initiated an inquiry into land grabbing and the recent incident had further deepened doubts of illegal activities in Taiser Town.

    “The deputy director (East) of the Anti-Corruption Establishment has been assigned to lead the inquiry team and file its final report in two weeks. The people involved in illegal business would be brought to justice,” it said.

    On Tuesday, an exercise by the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) in Taiser Town to mark government land turned into a violent episode when two legislators of the PTI reached the area along with their supporters and accused each other of supporting encroachments in the area, leading to a brawl between their groups.

    A video of the brawl between supporters of PTI MNA Aftab Jehangir and the party’s MPA Rabista Khan went viral on social media, showing them hurling allegations against each other of seizing government land and grabbing people’s property. The incident occurred in Sector 6-C of the area where the KDA staff stood surprised when dozens of area people came to protest against alleged encroachment of their land by the “mafia”.

    The PPP-led Sindh government took no time to take notice of the incident and ordered an inquiry.

    “Whoever [is] involved would face the defined laws irrespective of the position he enjoys. The government would not tolerate any political influence and pressure from any side while bringing the culprits to justice,” said Barrister Murtaza Wahab, the Chief Minister’s Adviser on Information, Law and Anti-corruption.

    Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2018


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    PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa parliamentary committee probing the Oct 4 police violence against the protesting University of Peshawar students on campus is also looking into the allegations of illegal appointments and financial corruption in the province’s historic varsity.

    “We are not only probing the police’s highhandedness on campus but we are also going to probe the allegations of illegal appointments, irregularities and financial corruption in the university. We will be looking into the complaints of fee hike, too,” said committee member Sardar Hussain Babak.

    The committee held its first meeting here and recorded the statements of the leaders of several student federations.

    Mr Babak said the committee would soon record the statements of the UoP administration’s members on the matter before finalising the report.

    PA panel also looking into police violence against students, fee hike

    “We hope that the government will take steps to save the province’s oldest institution of higher learning,” he said.

    Law minister Sultan Mohammad Khan, who heads the panel consisting of both treasury and opposition MPAs, was not available for comments on the matter.

    The committee was formed by the government to probe the baton-charging of UoP students by the police against fee hike on Oct 4, which led to the injury of some protesters and arrest of their leaders.

    The protesters accused the university administration of not keeping its promise of resolving transport and hostel issues.

    They also raised questions about the raising of a new security force in the presence of the Campus Police and UoP security personnel.

    The students staged the second protest on Tuesday forcing university officials to meet and even the parliamentary committee held its first meeting.

    “We have no expectations from the UoP administration but called off our protest when the parliamentary committee asked us to promising to look into our complaints,” said a member of the Muttahida Tulaba Mahaz, a body of all UoP student organisations and federations raising issues like fee hike.

    The MTM had held a sit-in last year for around two weeks, which was ended after former higher education minister Mushtaq Ghani assured it of help and raised their issues with the UoP administration.

    Spokesman for the UoP Ali Imran Bangash quoted a news report as claiming that a police official had admitted that the policemen were responsible for the baton-charging of students. He insisted that mostly outsiders were behind protests on campus.

    The spokesman said the terms of reference authorised the parliamentary committee to probe the UoP fee hike, use of hotels by outsiders, irregularities in administrative affairs, and the police’s highhandedness against students.

    When contacted, MTM chairman Bilal Buneri said the Tuesday protest was called off after the parliamentary committee promised the immediate start of the probe into the UoP affairs, including the Oct 4 police violence against students.

    He said Section 144 was imposed on campus and when Class IV staff members protested, nothing happened but ironically, when the students staged a protest, they were suppressed under the section of the law.

    Mr Buneri said the students took up the alleged UoP irregularities and corruption, harassment, fee hike and violence with the committee, which would compile its report within two weeks.

    Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2018


    KP parliamentary committee is probing OCt 4 police violence against UoP students as well as corruption by varsity administration. — Photo/FileKP parliamentary committee is probing OCt 4 police violence against UoP students as well as corruption by varsity administration. — Photo/File

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    Danish Kaneria has finally admitted his role in a fixing scandal that led to the imprisonment of former Essex team-mate Mervyn Westfield after six years of denials, Britain's Daily Mail reported late on Wednesday.

    Kaneria, who was given a life ban by English cricket chiefs that effectively applied worldwide, said in an interview for an Al Jazeera television documentary quoted by the Mail: "My name is Danish Kaneria and I admit that I was guilty of the two charges brought against me by the England and Wales Cricket Board in 2012."

    Leg-spinner Kaneria, who insisted he was repentant as he called for his life ban to be overturned, added: "I want to apologise to Mervyn Westfield, my Essex team-mates, my Essex cricket club, my Essex cricket fans. I say sorry to Pakistan."

    Westfield spent two months at Belmarsh prison in south-east London after pleading guilty to accepting 6,000 pounds ($7,862) from an illegal bookmaker, Anu Bhatt, to concede 12 runs in his first over of an English county 40-over game against Durham in 2009. He conceded only 10, but still took the money.

    Kaneria was the "middle-man" in the scam, having introduced Westfield to Bhatt, but avoided criminal charges when English legal authorities decided they lacked the evidence for a conviction.

    Now 37, Kaneria remains Pakistan's leading spinner with 261 Test wickets.

    'Forgiveness'

    He last played for Pakistan in the Trent Bridge Test of 2010, and has not appeared in any first-class game since March 2012, with all major boards upholding the ECB ban under International Cricket Council guidance.

    "I want to ask people's forgiveness," said Kaneria. "Cricket has given me so much in my life and I want to give something back."

    "If the ECB and ICC and other bodies would give me a second chance I can help to educate young people in cricket, teach them that if you do wrong you are finished like me."

    Kaneria said the fear of embarrassing his father, who died in 2013 and had been suffering from cancer, explained part of the reason behind his repeated denials of wrongdoing.

    "His health was getting worse and worse," he recalled. "I didn't have the courage to face him and tell him that I was wrong. He was a very, very proud guy. Very, very proud of me and what I did, representing Pakistan, representing my country."

    "I want to apologise to my father, who has always been a role model for me."

    Meanwhile Westfield told the Mail he accepted Kaneria's apology, saying: "This whole chapter of spot-fixing changed my life, but I have never blamed anyone for the terrible mistake I made.

    "However, opening up about my wrongdoing and telling the truth allowed me to move on," added Westfield, now 30, who was banned from professional cricket for five years after being released from jail but has since played club and minor county matches.

    "I hope that Danish finds peace and closure by doing this, and I wish him all the best for the future."


    Leg-spinner Danish Kaneria was handed a life ban for his role in a 2012 spot-fixing scandal. ─ Photo courtesy Al JazeeraLeg-spinner Danish Kaneria was handed a life ban for his role in a 2012 spot-fixing scandal. ─ Photo courtesy Al Jazeera

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    KARACHI: An antiterrorism court allowed on Wednesday an application moved by the prosecution pleading to record additional evidence of more witnesses in the case pertaining to an alleged attempt on the life of American educationist Debra Lobo.

    Convicted accused Saad Aziz, alias Tin Tin, along with his four accomplices have been charged with shooting at and wounding Ms Lobo, the vice principal of Jinnah Medical and Dental College, on Shaheed-i-Millat Road, in April 2015.

    On Wednesday, the ATC-XI judge, who is conducting the trial in the judicial complex inside the central prison, pronounced his verdict on the plea, which was reserved last week after hearing arguments from the prosecution and the defence.

    Allowing the application, the judge directed the investigating officer to produce the three witnesses to record their testimonies and fixed the matter for Oct 22.

    Earlier, the assistant prosecutor general had filed an application under Section 540 (power to summon material witness or examine persons present) of the Criminal Procedure Code, pleading to examine three more witnesses of the prosecution in the case.

    The court was informed that the empty cases of bullets secured from the scene, where Ms Lobo was shot, were sent to the forensic science laboratory for ballistic analysis. They informed that the cases had matched with a 0.9mm calibre pistol, which had also been used in the Safoora Goth carnage.

    It further stated that the same weapon was later recovered on the information by the detained accused. Therefore, it pleaded to summon three witnesses, including the case’s IO, the ballistics expert and the police official who made the recovery of weapon.

    On the other hand, Advocate Mohammad Jiwani, defence counsel for Saad Aziz, had opposed the plea arguing that the prosecution had failed to put up enough material to assign the role of his client to the commission of the alleged offence. He further argued that the prosecution had named a dozen witnesses, whose evidence had already been recorded during the trial. Therefore, he said the prosecution was trying to hush up the lacunae in the case by putting up more witnesses and pleaded to dismiss the plea.

    Aziz, a business graduate from a prestigious Karachi institution, along with his other accomplices were handed over to military authorities in January 2016 to face trial before military courts in 18 cases, including Safoora Goth bus carnage, murder of Sabeen Mahmud, killing of policemen, attempted murder and carrying explosive substances and illicit weapons. The military court had sentenced Saad Aziz, Tahir Minhas, Asadur Rehman, Mohammad Azhar Ishrat and Hafiz Nasir Ahmed to death in May 2016 in these cases.

    Later, the convicts were handed back to jail authorities to face trial in other cases pending before the antiterrorism courts.  

    Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2018


    Saad Aziz, alias Tin Tin, and four accomplices have been charged with shooting at and wounding Lobo. — Photo/FileSaad Aziz, alias Tin Tin, and four accomplices have been charged with shooting at and wounding Lobo. — Photo/File

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    KARACHI: The Oct 21 by-election on a Karachi National Assembly seat, NA-247, is expected to be a one-sided contest in favour of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, which has been facing no serious electoral challenge from any of the contending parties.

    The seat fell vacant following the resignation of PTI MNA Arif Alvi, who was elected as the country’s president. Mr Alvi had also won the same seat, then called NA-250, in the 2013 general elections.

    If the result of the July 25 election is anything to go by, then there is not a single party that can pose a serious challenge to PTI’s billionaire as well as foreign-qualified candidate Aftab Hussain Siddiqui in the by-election.

    The TLP that came second in the general elections is not in the field

    Mr Alvi got over 90,000 votes — over 65,000 votes more than the runner-up — against the candidates of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal who got 24,680, 24,146 and 22,780 votes, respectively. MQM-P’s heavyweight candidate Dr Farooq Sattar came third after TLP’s Zaman Ali Jafery.

    12 in the run

    Besides PTI’s Siddiqui, prominent candidates are Sadiq Iftikhar of the MQM-P, famous TV artist Qaiser Khan Nizamani of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Arshad Vohra of the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), Ali Nawab of the Pakistan Sunni Tehreek and seven independent candidates.

    The MMA, TLP and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz are not contesting the by-election.

    As MQM founder Altaf Hussain has already appealed to his followers to boycott the by-elections, internal differences and split within the MQM-P have made it very difficult for the party to show any improvement, or even maintain, their tally of July 25.

    Even MQM-P somehow realised that without Mr Hussain it was no more a power to be reckoned with in many city constituencies. Its senior leader Faisal Subzwari had said that his party might have a chance “if our voters would come out of their homes on polling day”.

    Over half a million voters

    Over half a million voters are registered in this constituency, which comprises areas of Defence, Clifton, Old City area, Kharadar, Ranchhore Line etc.

    Previously, Karachi’s South district had three NA seats. NA-247 was created this year as a result of fresh delimitation of constituencies for the July 25 election after amalgamating former NA-249 (Kharadar, Ranchhore Line, Old City areas) and NA-250 (Defence-Clifton, Burnes Road) constituencies.

    In all previous elections, the now defunct NA-249 seat was won by MQM candidates backed by London-based Hussain. But like the July 25 elections, it is very difficult for the fragmented MQM to pull a significant number of votes even from the areas in the constituency traditionally considered its strongholds.

    According to Election Commis­sion of Pakistan, a total of 240

    polling stations had been established for the Oct 21 by-election. There are total 546,451 voters — 295,567 male and 250,884 female voters.

    Low turnout feared

    Despite such a huge number of voters, it is believed that turnout would remain low in the by-election mainly because of the absence of TLP, which has a strong presence in Old City area.

    However, some people expect that the turnout would be better than that of last week’s NA-243 by-election because of the by-election on a provincial assembly constituency, PS-111, on the same date.

    The PA constituency, which is attached to NA-247, was left vacant by PTI’s Imran Ismail, who became the governor of the province.

    PTI’s candidate Siddiqui expected that the turnout would be better, but definitely less than that of the July 25 election.

    While the MQM-P, PPP and PSP are holding corner meetings, rallies and installing banners as part of their canvassing in the area, the campaign being run by PTI’s Siddiqui is most prominent.

    The PTI candidate, who owns a giant construction firm, is already working in some impoverished neighbourhoods — which fall in the constituency and where the elected local government set-up is responsible for cleanliness, etc, — by making arrangements on a self-help basis to lift garbage.

    Mr Siddiqui replied in the negative when asked whether he and his friends were also taking similar measures in areas being controlled by the Cantonment Board Clifton as well the Defence Housing Authority.

    There was resentment within the PTI circles for awarding the party ticket to a relatively new entrant like Mr Siddiqui on a seat that fell vacant by the party’s founding member.

    He agreed that he was never part of any political party before joining the PTI in 2010.

    Mr Siddiqui, also a registered voter of the NA-247 constituency, told Dawn that he looked after the PTI’s “historic” public meeting in Karachi on Dec 25, 2011 along with senior leader Naeemul Haque. “I was the campaign manager of Imran Khan’s election on NA-243 constituency,” he said.

    If all goes well, it would be smooth sailing for the PTI candidate on Oct 21.

    Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2018


    There is not a single party that can pose a serious challenge to PTI’s billionaire as well as foreign-qualified candidate. — Photo/FileThere is not a single party that can pose a serious challenge to PTI’s billionaire as well as foreign-qualified candidate. — Photo/File

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    Danish Kaneria has finally admitted his role in a fixing scandal that led to the imprisonment of former Essex team-mate Mervyn Westfield after six years of denials, Britain's Daily Mail reported late on Wednesday.

    Kaneria, who was given a life ban by English cricket chiefs that effectively applied worldwide, said in an interview for an Al Jazeera television documentary quoted by the Mail: "My name is Danish Kaneria and I admit that I was guilty of the two charges brought against me by the England and Wales Cricket Board in 2012."

    Leg-spinner Kaneria, who insisted he was repentant as he called for his life ban to be overturned, added: "I want to apologise to Mervyn Westfield, my Essex team-mates, my Essex cricket club, my Essex cricket fans. I say sorry to Pakistan."

    Westfield spent two months at Belmarsh prison in south-east London after pleading guilty to accepting 6,000 pounds ($7,862) from an illegal bookmaker, Anu Bhatt, to concede 12 runs in his first over of an English county 40-over game against Durham in 2009. He conceded only 10, but still took the money.

    Kaneria was the "middle-man" in the scam, having introduced Westfield to Bhatt, but avoided criminal charges when English legal authorities decided they lacked the evidence for a conviction.

    Now 37, Kaneria remains Pakistan's leading spinner with 261 Test wickets.

    'Forgiveness'

    He last played for Pakistan in the Trent Bridge Test of 2010, and has not appeared in any first-class game since March 2012, with all major boards upholding the ECB ban under International Cricket Council guidance.

    "I want to ask people's forgiveness," said Kaneria. "Cricket has given me so much in my life and I want to give something back."

    "If the ECB and ICC and other bodies would give me a second chance I can help to educate young people in cricket, teach them that if you do wrong you are finished like me."

    Kaneria said the fear of embarrassing his father, who died in 2013 and had been suffering from cancer, explained part of the reason behind his repeated denials of wrongdoing.

    "His health was getting worse and worse," he recalled. "I didn't have the courage to face him and tell him that I was wrong. He was a very, very proud guy. Very, very proud of me and what I did, representing Pakistan, representing my country."

    "I want to apologise to my father, who has always been a role model for me."

    Meanwhile Westfield told the Mail he accepted Kaneria's apology, saying: "This whole chapter of spot-fixing changed my life, but I have never blamed anyone for the terrible mistake I made.

    "However, opening up about my wrongdoing and telling the truth allowed me to move on," added Westfield, now 30, who was banned from professional cricket for five years after being released from jail but has since played club and minor county matches.

    "I hope that Danish finds peace and closure by doing this, and I wish him all the best for the future."


    Leg-spinner Danish Kaneria was handed a life ban for his role in a 2012 spot-fixing scandal. ─ Photo courtesy Al JazeeraLeg-spinner Danish Kaneria was handed a life ban for his role in a 2012 spot-fixing scandal. ─ Photo courtesy Al Jazeera

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    HARIPUR: Slain journalist Sohail Khan was laid to rest in Hattar village here on Wednesday amid calls for the government to financially support his family.

    The correspondent of a local daily was killed by gunmen here on Tuesday afternoon with his family accusing two brothers from the village Ali Sher and Humayun of the murder.

    However, the police failed to arrest the suspects.

    Journalists, politicians, social activists and people from other walks of life attended the funeral of Sohail Khan in large numbers.

    Haripur journalists ask govt to support deceased’s family

    DIG of Hazara police Mohammad Alam Khan Shinwari and Haripur DPO Mansoor Amman visited his family, offered fateha for him and assured them of the early arrest of the suspects.

    Members of the Haripur Union of Journalists and Haripur Press Club placed a wreath on the journalist’s grave.

    Sohail’s father Shafaqat Khan named Ali Sher and Humayun of the village as suspected killers in the complaint filed with the police.

    He claimed that his son had published news reports about the involvement of the suspects’ father, Musarat Iqbal, in drug trafficking leading to the latter’s arrest over the seizure of one kilogramme of charas.

    The complainant insisted that the suspects had made death threats against his son several times and that the police were formally informed about them.

    The police later registered a criminal case against the suspects but both continued to be at large.

    Meanwhile, members of the Haripur Union of Journalists and Haripur Press Club held an emergency meeting.

    They condemned Sohail Khan’s killing and asked the police for early arrest of the suspects for punishment.

    The participants said the murder was an attempt to muzzle media and showed the government’s failure to protect investigative journalists.

    They demanded protection for journalists and their families and financial support for the family of the deceased.

    The participants later took out a rally against the killing. Carrying placards, shouting slogans and wearing black armbands, they demanded the immediate arrest of culprits for punishment.

    Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2018


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    The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday ordered the Defence Ministry to submit a report on an inquiry conducted into former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief retired Lt Gen Asad Durrani by General Headquarters (GHQ) after the former spy chief sought removal of his name from the no-fly list.

    Durrani's name was placed on the Exit Control List on May 29 upon the Pakistan Army's request after he visited GHQ on May 28 to clarify his stance in The Spy Chronicles, a book co-authored by him and Amarjit Singh Dulat, former chief of Indian spy agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

    The former director general (DG) ISI had petitioned the IHC on Oct 2 seeking removal of his name from the ECL.

    Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani, who is hearing Durrani's petition, today also ordered the Interior Ministry to submit a reply explaining why Durrani's name had been placed on the ECL.

    Defence Ministry Director Law Branch Falak Naz, who was representing the Defence Ministry in court today, said that Durrani had written a book along with the former chief of the Indian spy agency.

    He said that Durrani had remained the DG Military Intelligence and the DG ISI and there was a pending inquiry against him in GHQ.

    Naz said that he couldn't speculate about when the inquiry would be completed, and added that Durrani had also been a part of the 2012 Asghar Khan case regarding the distribution of money to politicians.

    Retired Air Marshal Asghar Khan had accused former army chief retired Gen Mirza Aslam Beg and Durrani of corrupting the democratic process with money. Nearly 16 years after the petition was filed, the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the 1990 general elections had been polluted by dishing out Rs140 million to a particular group of politicians only to deprive the people of being represented by their chosen representatives.

    The apex court on June 2 this year sent notices to 21 army officials and politicians.

    The former DG ISI's lawyer Omar Fakhar Adam said they were not sent any notice regarding an inquiry into Durrani after his book was released, adding that the former DG ISI was once called to the GHQ headquarters for tea, during which only chit chat took place.

    Adam pointed out that in the Asghar Khan case, General Beg's name had not been placed on the ECL. He argued that his client had to go overseas for a conference on November 26 and 27, and and his name should be removed from the ECL.

    Justice Kiyani said that until the GHQ inquiry report and Interior Ministry's reply were submitted, nothing could be done. The case was postponed until December 3.


    Retired Lt Gen Asad Durrani. — File PhotoRetired Lt Gen Asad Durrani. — File Photo

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    Musician and actor Meesha Shafi on Thursday filed her response in the defamation case filed against her by fellow artist Ali Zafar in a Lahore sessions court.

    In her reply to the court, Shafi has stated that Zafar had harassed her on more than two occasions.

    "Ali Zafar harassed [me] at a private studio and family functions," she said in the response submitted through her counsels Mohammad Saqib Jilani and Advocate Tasawwur.

    She stated that she had been "compelled" to take action against Zafar because of the harassment incidents, adding that Zafar had also harassed several other female artists aside from her.

    "I will also provide evidence [of the allegations] when the court asks for it," Shafi said.

    Denying all defamation charges levelled against her by Zafar, she said Zafar "is trying to act innocent before the court".

    She urged the court to dismiss the defamation suit filed her against by Zafar.

    After receiving the reply, the court summoned the lawyers for both artists to present their arguments at the next hearing, scheduled for November 5.

    In a statement on Twitter on April 19, Shafi had written: "I have been subjected, on more than one occasion, to sexual harassment of a physical nature at the hands of a colleague from my industry: Ali Zafar [...] It has been an extremely traumatic experience for me and my family [...] I feel betrayed by his behaviour and attitude and I know that I'm not alone."

    Shortly after, Zafar had denied the allegations in a statement and sent a legal notice to Shafi, demanding that Shafi delete the tweet accusing him of harassment and issue an apology on Twitter.

    Zafar then filed a defamation case against Shafi for damages worth Rs1 billion in June. The court, in its last hearing in September, had given Shafi the "last opportunity" to submit a reply in the case.


    After Meesha Shafi (L) accused Ali Zafar of harassment, Zafar had filed a defamation case against her for damages worth Rs1 billion. — File photosAfter Meesha Shafi (L) accused Ali Zafar of harassment, Zafar had filed a defamation case against her for damages worth Rs1 billion. — File photos

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    Musician and actor Meesha Shafi on Thursday filed her response to a defamation case filed against her by fellow artist Ali Zafar in a Lahore sessions court.

    In her reply to the court, Shafi has stated that Zafar had harassed her on more than two occasions.

    "Ali Zafar harassed [me] at a private studio and family functions," she said in the response submitted through her counsels Mohammad Saqib Jilani and Advocate Tasawwur.

    She stated that she had been "compelled" to take action against Zafar because of the harassment incidents, adding that Zafar had also harassed several other female artists aside from her.

    "I will also provide evidence [of the allegations] when the court asks for it," Shafi said.

    Denying all defamation charges levelled against her by Zafar, she said Zafar "is trying to act innocent before the court".

    She urged the court to dismiss the defamation suit filed against her by Zafar.

    After receiving the reply, the court summoned the lawyers for both artists to present their arguments at the next hearing, scheduled for November 5.

    In a statement on Twitter on April 19, Shafi had written: "I have been subjected, on more than one occasion, to sexual harassment of a physical nature at the hands of a colleague from my industry: Ali Zafar [...] It has been an extremely traumatic experience for me and my family [...] I feel betrayed by his behaviour and attitude and I know that I'm not alone."

    Following Shafi's allegations, several women had come forward on Twitter to also accuse Zafar of harassment.

    Shortly after, Zafar denied the allegations in a statement and sent a legal notice to Shafi, demanding that Shafi delete the tweet accusing him of harassment and issue an apology on Twitter.

    Zafar then filed a defamation case against Shafi for damages worth Rs1 billion in June. The court, in its last hearing in September, had given Shafi the "last opportunity" to submit a reply in the case.

    In an earlier hearing, the sessions court had restrained her from "making any derogatory remarks" against Zafar "in any manner on print or electronic or social media".


    After Meesha Shafi (L) accused Ali Zafar of harassment, Zafar had filed a defamation case against her for damages worth Rs1 billion. — File photosAfter Meesha Shafi (L) accused Ali Zafar of harassment, Zafar had filed a defamation case against her for damages worth Rs1 billion. — File photos

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    tHE Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Thursday suspended its decision to block unregistered mobile phones after October 20.

    The decision to suspend the blockage of unregistered phones was made after the Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology, in a meeting today, suggested that an awareness campaign be launched to educate the public about the implications of the move.

    A press release from PTA, while announcing that the deadline had been extended, said that the measure has been taken due to "requests from mobile device consumers and stakeholders, and to create further awareness [about the blockage of unregistered mobile phones] for the general public".

    Earlier this week, PTA had announced that all unregistered mobile phones will become unusable after Oct 20 after its long-anticipated Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) becomes functional. DIRBS is an indigenous solution aimed to combat the use of smuggled or counterfeit sets which either serve to reduce tax revenues for the state or pose health problems to unsuspecting consumers.

    In today's meeting, PTA had proposed to extend the deadline by two months. However, it later told the committee that the Ministry of Information and Technology will make the final decision on the new date for the blockage of unregistered mobile phones.

    PTA had decided to suspend its decision to block all unregistered mobile phones on Oct 20 after the standing committee expressed its reservations on the plan and pointed out that there was a lack of awareness among people, which was creating panic.

    The committee, during a meeting today, asked PTA Chairman Mohammad Naveed and Director Talib Dogar — who had appeared before the members — if they had forensic data of stolen mobile phones. The PTA chairman told members that stolen mobile devices can be traced through their International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number and that the authority would block all non-compliant devices.

    The committee responded that there were multiple devices that were registered on the same IMEI number and blocking all of them would affect many people. The PTA officials argued that unregistered mobile phones, including ones with duplicate IMEIs, create problems for security agencies as they make it harder for them to trace stolen devices.


    Senate committee says PTA should run an awareness campaign to educate public about the move. — Photo/FileSenate committee says PTA should run an awareness campaign to educate public about the move. — Photo/File

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    The Supreme Court on Thursday disqualified a member of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, belonging to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, after finding him guilty of possessing a bogus degree.

    A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar heard the case pertaining to the fake degree of PML-N’s Ziaur Rehman.

    During the course of proceedings, Justice Nisar asked Rehman about his qualification, to which the PML-N leader said that he had studied Hadith and Fiqah from a seminary.

    Upon this the chief justice asked Rehman to recite any five Hadith in Arabic, however, the PML-N leader could not recite a single Hadith.

    “How can you complete matric and a religious course from seminary in the same year?” questioned Justice Nisar.

    “Moreover, the head of the seminary has informed the apex court that you never completed any course from there,” the chief justice told Rehman

    Subsequently, the bench observed that the degree of Rehman was fake and he was not liable to remain a member of the provincial assembly.

    While disqualifying PML-N’s Rehman, the bench disposed of the case.

    It is pertinent to mention that Zia had emerged victorious from PK-30 Mansehra-I during the July 25 general election.


    PMLN's Zia-ur-Rehman had emerged victorious from PK-30 Mansehra-I during the July 25 general election. —KP Assembly/FilePMLN's Zia-ur-Rehman had emerged victorious from PK-30 Mansehra-I during the July 25 general election. —KP Assembly/File

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